Eugene Brown

Broker/Owner and President

OFFICE: (919) 688-9314 EMAIL:

eugene framedA Durham native, Eugene’s interest in real estate was sparked back in the 1970s when he moved to Washington, D.C. and purchased his first home, a 1910 row house on Capitol Hill. Eugene met his wife, Signe, while both of them were working for the youngest Senator with the least seniority from the smallest state in the union… Joe Biden. They were married in 1975 and moved to Denver, Colorado, where Eugene served as Director of Communications for the National Conference of State Legislatures. There, the Browns bought and restored yet another 1910 home on Denver’s Capitol Hill.

The Browns moved to Durham in 1980, where they saw a niche in the market for selling older homes of character in established neighborhoods. They decided to open their own real estate firm, Distinctive Properties, in the fall of 1980, choosing as their logo the ionic column that adorns their 1906 Trinity Park home.

Yet, it was a difficult time to start any business, let alone a real estate firm. As Eugene recalls: “I’ve never forgotten that Friday in late October when we literally opened our doors to no one and, at the same time the prime rate hit an all-time high of 17%.” But the ominous start did not deter them and for 32 years Distinctive Properties has continued to list and sell homes of character to characters. And over the years, Brown has restored many homes and received numerous awards for his renovations from the Historic Preservation Society of Durham, the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce and the Historic Preservation Foundation of North Carolina.

With an interest in politics and many years of community involvement, he was elected to the Durham City Council in 2004 and re-elected for two additional four year terms, the last being in 2011.  Councilman Brown is proud of his record of supporting the renaissance of Durham, including the public/private partnership to renovate the American Tobacco Complex, the development of the Durham Performing Arts Center (using no tax money), the recent $20 million street bond and the effort to return effectiveness and efficiency to city government. During his tenure the crime rate has been reduced as well. As a result, according to a recent poll, 82% of residents now say they are happy to call Durham home.

A former president of the Historic Preservation Society of Durham, Eugene has also served on the Board of Directors of the Durham Arts Council, the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce, the Carolina Theater, and the Museum of Life and Science. He received the Citizenship Award from the Durham Regional Association of Realtors® in 2009 “in appreciation and recognition of outstanding public service, throughout Durham and the region.”  He also earned the degree of “Goodmon Fellow” from Leadership Triangle.

For 30 years, the Browns have lived in the 100-year-old John Spencer Bassett home in Trinity Park, across from Duke’s East Campus. Their home, which is on the Durham Historic Register, was recently profiled in the December 2011 issue of Durham Magazine. Eugene is a member of First Presbyterian Church and Signe is a parishioner at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church. Signe, an attorney, is a third-grade teacher at Forest View Elementary School.

The Browns have two children and three grandchildren. Brian is a graduate of Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut and is Assistant Director of Admissions for International Students at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Christine is a graduate of Mary Washington College in Fredricksburg, Va. She and her husband, Brad, recently moved to Durham where they are raising their young daughter, Ellie, and son Noland.

Eugene’s hobbies include reading, (especially history), gardening, world travel and photography. He also enjoys working with his numerous koi fish ponds. His love of photography has been life-long, starting with a $15 Kodak Brownie he purchased while in elementary school. For eight summers, while in college and graduate school, he served as a naturalist and river guide on the Snake River in the Grand Teton National Park where he furthered his photogenic skills with the expansive and scenic beauty of Wyoming. He and Signe have traveled to Russia, the Baltic’s, Europe, Japan, London, and the Caribbean, all of which provided him with a diversity of photographic subjects. Indeed, a current exhibit of his photographs can be viewed at Durham City Hall.


Eugene's Photography

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